Has Nuclear Power Run Out of Power?

Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman is a new half-hour weekly series on ideas and their consequences.

The nuclear power industry has suffered severe setbacks recently that bring into question whether it will be a viable source of energy in the future. Yet China has committed to nuclear in a big way. A discussion of the future of nuclear energy at home and abroad.

Transcript

IDEAS IN ACTION with Jim Glassman

Nuclear Energy

JIM GLASSMAN:
Welcome to Ideas in Action a television series about ideas and their consequences. I'm Jim Glassman.

Over the past decade the nuclear industry touted a global nuclear renaissance, taking advantage of the idea that nuclear power is a clean energy and could be a partial solution to climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Then came the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan. Now many people are rethinking the safety and viability of nuclear power and the Germans and Swiss have totally renounced it. Is this the death knell for the nuclear power industry?

Joining me to discuss this are Tony Pietrangelo, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer at the Nuclear Energy Institute; Thomas Cochran, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Charles Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists. The topic this week: the fate of the U.S. nuclear renaissance. This is Ideas in Action.

ANNOUNCER:
Funding for Ideas in Action is provided by Investor's Business Daily. Every stock market cycle is led by America's never ending stream of innovative new companies and inventions. Investor's Business Daily helps investors find these new leaders as they emerge. More information is available at Investors.com.

JIM GLASSMAN:
As of April 2011 there were 433 nuclear power plants operating in 29 countries. 104 of those facilities are located in the United States and they generate 20% of U.S. electricity. There are 64 new plants under construction around the world. It's a pricy undertaking as each plant can cost up to 6 billion dollars to get online. The recent Fukushima nuclear meltdown that occurred in March came on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe. It also put a spotlight on safety issues like the disposal of spent fuel rods. Now many people are asking if the benefit of nuclear energy justifies the risk. Welcome Tony Pietrangelo, Charles Ferguson, and Thomas Cochran. Tony how far back did the Fukushima accident set the U.S. nuclear industry?

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Well clearly Fukushima was a very, very significant accident. Our job here in the states now is to learn as much as we can about what happened there. Learn those lessons and apply them to our facilities to make them even safer. I think the administration's been very measured in its response. I think the president got it exactly right shortly after the accident saying that our plants have been exhaustively reviewed by the NRC. They are very, very safe but it's clearly encompass-- incumbent on our industry and our regulator to thoroughly understand the lessons learned and apply them to make these plants even safer.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And your regulator, the NRC, is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Charles how long do you think it's going to take Americans to regain confidence-- if they've lost it you can say whether they've lost it or not-- in nuclear power?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
We've seen in recent polls-- we saw polls-- the Gallup polls, other the polls, leading up last several years up into the Fukushima accident, the public was being more and more supportive of nuclear power, they're a strong majority of support and then right after Fukushima, no surprise, there was a fall off in the public support. Now it's you know less than the majority support but I believe that can come back if, you know, the industry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission takes it very seriously.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But I mean it's clear that the NRC has taken it very seriously but are people going to just say well you know we don't know what's going to happen and if it happens to a coal plant it's not a big deal. If it happens to a nuclear plant, lots of people could be killed.

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Well we have to deal with all the areas of concern; from the plant operations to the safe and secure disposal of the nuclear waste to even dealing with concerns about proliferation on the United States on other countries and that can affect U.S. nuclear industry.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Tom do you-- should people feel that nuclear power is safe?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
No-- it isn't and I think we've seen the latest evidence of that but on a worldwide basis there's something like 440 reactors and historically we've operated about 580 some odd reactors. And in the course of that history, we've had about 10, 12 cases of serious core fuel damage to the reactors; the worst case being Chernobyl. And if you crunch the numbers-- the frequency of severe core accidents is substantially higher than what even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe.

JIM GLASSMAN:
I want to get into that in some depth but I want to ask Tony though first; how strong is the domestic nuclear industry now? I mean is there-- does this mean we're not going to see any new nuclear plants being built?

TONY PIETRANGELO
No absolutely not in fact there's two under construction now in South Carolina and Georgia. We have a fleet of 104 operating reactors and another plant about to be finished in Tennessee in 2012, the Watts Bar reactor--

JIM GLASSMAN:
And that would be the first one in what fifteen years?

TONY PIETRANGELO
They restarted another Browns Ferry unit several years ago but that would make the 105th. And then we expect as an industry four to eight new plants between 2016 and 2020. So our industry is going to apply the lessons learned from Fukushima but we think we have a very strong operating record. The way we got that operating and safety record is by applying lessons learned from events that have occurred. I think one statistic that Tom mentioned a lot of those were early on and startups. You learn from those lessons and apply them to the design and operation going forward to reduce the frequency of severe events and I think we've done a good job of reducing the risk of use of nuclear energy.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
30% roughly of the 104 U.S. reactors on the order of 30, 32 U.S. reactors are essentially the same containment design, same reactor and containment design as the Fukushima reactors. They have serious design deficiencies. We don't know that they're major differences between the Fukushima reactors and ours in terms of the operating procedures that would argue that our reactors are a whole lot safer than theirs.

TONY PIETRANGELO:
That's a key point-- no Tom raises a key point. We do have to understand the differences both in the regulatory requirements in Japan and ours. And I know there have been many, many enhancements to the type of containment that was licensed in the initial-- for these Mark I containments in the early 70s. Many enhancements made--

THOMAS COCHRAN:
The Japanese argue that they've made the same improvements. Physical improvements--

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Yeah. But there's design and operational differences in terms of when certain actions occur, what were the operator responses, what their training program was, what procedures they used, the command to control-- there's many, many differences between the Japanese system and ours that we need to understand to fully really apply those lessons.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Yeah let me ask Charles about that. I mean for example, one of the reasons the Japanese reactors failed was because the electricity got shutdown. Do we have reactors that don't require electricity to mitigate the problems of a potential meltdown?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Well every reactor's going to need a source of electrical power right at shutdown because what happens is-- what people might think well if you shutdown a reactor there's no more power being produced but the fact is there's a lot of highly radioactive materials that are giving off a lot of heat. So right at shutdown you know about 6 to 7% of the power you had right before shutdown is being produced and that decays over time but it can take several days to weeks to get to the point where you can get kind of the cooling systems in place where it's very stable--

THOMAS COCHRAN:
Months. Months.

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Or months right. But what happened in Japan is they lost the offsite power because of the earthquake and tsunami, then they lost the diesel generators, that's the backup emergency source of power. And we-- I don't know if we know yet where exactly the diesel generators were located but they were susceptible to this huge tsunami wave. They were knocked out and then they had batteries so that was the last line of defense. And the batteries drained in a period about 6 to 8 hours. Now that's actually a longer charge than we have in the U.S. in terms of battery power.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And why was this power important because it was required to put water into the--?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
You need to run the pumps. You need to keep circulating water through this hot reactor core to take away that heat otherwise the core could meltdown.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
You can shut the chain reaction off but you can't shut the reactor off. It's-- you don't flip the switch and go to bed. These things continue to produce substantial heat that would melt the fuel if it were not cooled all the time for weeks.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But could that happen to a U.S. reactor? You lose all those sources of power?

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Most of our plants don't have any tsunami risk but they're designed for all natural phenomena in their locale whether it be earthquake, hurricane, flood, etc. So yeah there's scenarios where as part of the design basis of the plant you analyze the most severe natural phenomena and you make sure that plant-- and margin is added to those designs to ensure that that can't take out all your emergency AC power.

JIM GLASSMAN:
I read somewhere Tom that there is-- that you can use gravity to pump water into a plant and avoid this kind of meltdown.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
Some reactors are designed to use gravity to feed the water to cool the reactor in an emergency situation. In addition, probably one of the most important factors that affects the safety of the plant is the safety culture of the people that are running the plant. So you know if you have a good safety culture arguably you don't get into these situations.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And how would you assess the safety culture in the United States?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
I would say it's better than it is in most but perhaps not all of the countries. We are the only country where you have two nuclear regulators stationed at the plants all the time. There are a number of reasons to argue that-- that-- argue that U.S. plants overall are safer than plants overall overseas.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Let's talk about some of this new technology. What is a pebble bed reactor?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Well a pebble bed modular reactor is actually started out in Germany-- German engineering. South Africa was exploring this design for a period of time and then they had concerns about the cost. Their government is suffering from big debt. They wanted to move forward with new nuclear power plants, they're backing away from that. China's right now developing a prototype pebble bed reactor. So the technology basically is these kind of almost like gumballs right and you feed them in continually through the reactor and you then shuffle out these other gumballs and it basically is a graphite uranium mix. And the claim is that this is accident resistant because you could you know if you lose offsite power that you have all-- means the pass of cooling and that the graphite uranium balls won't necessarily meltdown. But you know this hasn't been significantly tested yet.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So is that the main advantage of these plants? The other thing I've heard is that you can build smaller plants--

CHARLES FERGUSON:
You can build smaller plants. That's why I said pebble bed modular reactor-- modular capacity is you could start with maybe 100 megawatts, 200-megawatt design which is a tenth or one fifth of the big reactors that we have in the Untied States today. And you could scale up over time.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But are, Tony, are pebble bed reactors being built in the United States? I know it's a big deal in China.

TONY PIETRANGELO:
No. There's no small modular reactors under construction in the U.S. There's a few under development that I believe will submit design certifications to our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and it-- but it's got a lot popularity for the reasons that Charles said. If you can build these modules and over time build up the megawatt use and it's kind of done in a manufacturing versus a construction environment so you can reduce cost that way. And there's a lot of interest in that. I think we've still got to make the business case for these that they can overcome the economies of scale that the big plants have.

JIM GLASSMAN:
How important do you think it is for the United States, Tony, to stay ahead in nuclear technology. We provide a lot of the technology for other parts of the world.

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Yeah really the vast majority of the plants that operate worldwide are based on U.S. technology. We did invent it here. So it is important for us to maintain that lead. We still have the biggest operating fleet of reactors but we shut down some aspects of the program in the late 70s. I'm sure Charles could go into more detail on that. But we have kind of lost our technological lead. I think we're starting to get that back now with small modular reactors and enhancements to the existing designs.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
Well you know Germany has just decided to get out of the nuclear business all together. At one time they were one of the leaders in the nuclear business. And they have-- as a consequence of Fukushima have decided that they're going to phase out nuclear power plants and focus on renewable energy and be a leader in supply of renewable energy tech.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So what do you think-- you think that's a good idea?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
It's safer.

JIM GLASSMAN:
But do you think the United-- I mean United States right now generates about what 20% of its power nuclear. I mean do you think that over time we shouldn't be building anymore nuclear plants and that-- kind of should let that proportion dwindle down?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
I think the federal government shouldn't be subsidizing the construction of new nuclear plants in the United States.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And how does it do that through loan guarantees?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
Well through--

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Should they subsidize wind and solar?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
There's an appropriate place for federal subsidies but this is a mature technology it's been around for 50 years. You subsidize new technologies that-- look attractive and you want them to enter the market faster than they would otherwise.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So that's your answer to Tony's question about it's ok to subsidize wind and solar because they're new technologies?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
There's a good case could be made for phasing out the subsidies for wind not for some forms of solar technology. The cost of solar (?) tags for example photo electricity production has been coming down over the years and as you subsidize to build a market for this technology the cost will continue to come down.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So to--

TONY PIETRANGELO:
We're not against-- let me just follow up on Tom. We're not against renewables at all. This isn't an either or problem that our country faces. With regard to Germany though, that's the third time the German government changed their mind on the use of nuclear in the last several years. There's an election coming up in the fall. This was clearly a political decision. The only real things we know that's going to happen in Germany is they're going to burn a lot more fossil fuel. They're going to import a lot more electricity probably from French nuclear plants and they're going to pay a premium for it. And they're also putting the reliability of their electricity supply at risk for their economy and for their people.

JIM GLASSMAN:
I want to move on to China and let me ask Charles; I mean China is where-- is where the growth in power generation is happening and the Chinese have made a decision to do a lot more in nuclear. I mean right now it's not very significant. Is that something we should be paying attention to?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Oh absolutely. I was in China couple of years ago about this time and it was the big inter-ministerial meeting and the Chinese government over the 2 or 3 days of the conference kept upping the ante as to how much nuclear power they want to build. And if they stay on track within the next 20 to 30 years they may match the number of nuclear reactors we have in the United States, about 100. But it's important to realize-- and right after the Fukushima accident, that the Chinese government they were so worried about their people's reaction to what's happening in Japan that they put a halt to construction for the time being while they're doing a safety assessment. I think the Chinese government's now realizing that there's a safety gap. They're rushing construction so fast, they're building a couple dozen plants right now, they need to make sure they have several hundred to a few thousand highly trained technicians so they can make sure they achieve the high safety standards.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
China doesn't have the regulatory regime that we have in the United States. They don't have the equivalent of an independent nuclear regulatory agency. That's one problem. Second, problem is a lot of their plants are built in very heavily populated areas and so if they were to have an accident of this magnitude they would have far more serious consequences. Thirdly, a lot of the plants are built on the coast and they're going to have the same sort of tsunami issues that Japan has. So somebody needs to review that issue--

JIM GLASSMAN:
And are we providing the technology for most of these Chinese plants?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
It's a mix.

JIM GLASSMAN:
U.S companies--

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Well-- the inland plants, the AP1000 has Westinghouse technologies so we're helping build those. The French have provided a lot of technology to China. Now China is developing these sort of replication reactors. These are French knock off designs. But the French design as Tony said earlier it traces back to the U.S. So this is all really U.S. designed reactors.

JIM GLASSMAN:
One thing that Americans do have to worry about is and we maybe learned this from Fukushima is this that there are these spent fuel rods that are in pools of water at nuclear plants. And we've been trying for years to move this to Yucca Mountain in Nevada and I think we spent 15 billion dollars investigating--

TONY PIETRANGELO:
We spent 9 but there's 30 in the kitty. Million. [Laughs]

JIM GLASSMAN:
Ok. And actually the 9 is-- when we say we've spent it's really electric rate payers who's been spending it.

TONY PIETRANGELO:
That's correct.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So what's going to happen there?

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Well currently there's a blue ribbon commission studying the policy options for the U.S. on how to manage the back end of the fuel cycle. There's draft recommendations out right now I think for comment final recommendations are due at the end of the year. But there's lots of different ways to skin this cat but we do need a unified national policy on used fuel management.

JIM GLASSMAN:
I mean we've been talking about this for so long-- this really is a political issue right Charles?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Right and a couple of weeks ago I put my name to a report - it was kind of a right left coalition report. What we were proposing is to have-- broaden the options to use market forces to try to create more incentive to deal with spent fuel in a safe and secure manner. So not just stick it to Yucca Mountain. We need more than one repository. If we look at the amount of spent fuels already accumulated in the United States it's something like 65,000 tons. We're almost at the congressional limit for Yucca Mountain.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Tom what do you think about this? What's the-- first of all should Americans be concerned about all this spent fuel that's sitting in these pools? Would it be better to put it somewhere else?

THOMAS COCHRAN:
They should be concerned about the spent fuel in the pools but it's a little complicated. First of all nuclear is the only technology-- energy technology where the federal government takes responsibility for disposing of the waste. And the federal government has now failed for the third time to build a repository or an interim solution. We as a society have a commitment to future generations to put this material away where it will not be a hazard to future generations. In the interim it can be stored safely in dry casts after it's cooled sufficiently--

JIM GLASSMAN:
And dry cast storage means you put these fuel rods in cement?

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Right.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
Once it's put in the dry casts in my judgment it can be stored safely as long as society is around to manage the casts.

JIM GLASSMAN:
We have to wrap up so let's end this way. What role should nuclear power play in domestic energy policy?

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Well currently it play-- it provides 20% of electricity generation in our country, 70% of the emission free generation in this country. It's the only expandable base load option we have that doesn't pollute the environment with greenhouse gases. So I think it plays an essential role in a diverse energy portfolio from an energy independent standpoint, from a air quality standpoint, from a job creation standpoint. Nuclear is a vital part of our energy portfolio in the U.S. If we end up going to more electric cars I think it could take on an even greater role because even though demand is forecast to be fairly low over the next 20, 30 years, 1 to 1.5% per year, over time-- and if we do get to an electric car economy, that's going to increase substantially and we'll need more electricity so--

JIM GLASSMAN:
Just to reiterate the point you made earlier you're saying the Fukushima did not destroy the American nuclear industry--

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Absolutely not.

JIM GLASSMAN:
--There's still more plants that are being built.

TONY PIETRANGELO:
Absolutely not.

JIM GLASSMAN:
I want to move to Tom on this question of what role should nuclear power play overall in U.S. energy policy.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
First of all if 104 reactors producing 20% of the electricity and those reactors are not going to be shutdown any time soon, the vast majority at least, and so it's going to continue to play a significant role. It's essential that we improve the safety of those operational nuclear plants. In terms of going forward the biggest problem the nuclear industry has is that the new plants are not economically competitive with other forms of production of electricity and with-- more importantly with energy efficiency that can reduce the demand.

JIM GLASSMAN:
Ok we've got to go to Charles on this last question about what's the role that nuclear's going to play in the overall energy picture.

CHARLES FERGUSON:
We as a society have to decide what do we value. We haven't talked much about climate change on this show and I know there's some skepticism about it but you know propounds evidence shows that the climate is changing a lot of scientists believe it's due to greenhouse gas emissions. You don't have to necessarily pick winners or losers and say we're going to subsidize nuclear, we're going to subsidize wind or solar etcetera. Instead you say we as a society decide this is what we're going to do in terms of trying to limit the emissions of these kinds of gases. You know the George H.W. Bush administration put in place a cap and trade system on sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from coal plants that was creating a lot of acid rain in my home state of Pennsylvania in particular and that has been tremendously effective. It allowed the industry to figure out what worked best in terms of reducing those types of emissions and still provide electricity in this country.

JIM GLASSMAN:
So you think that if we place a high value on reducing emissions then nuclear becomes much more important.

CHARLES FERGUSON:
Absolutely.

JIM GLASSMAN:
And I think Tony brought that point up earlier that nuclear plants produce zero emissions. Would you like to see some kind of cap and trade law?

TONY PIETRANGELO:
We supported the legislation that was in congress.

THOMAS COCHRAN:
If you want to back out carbon, which we do, the cheapest, fastest, safest investment is not a new nuclear plant it's a new wind plant, solar plant, energy efficiency, combination of those with gas. So just because nuclear doesn't produce-- release carbon or-- significant amounts of carbon doesn't mean it's the best way to back out carbon from for example--

JIM GLASSMAN:
And I think this debate will continue. And thank you all. Thank you Charles, thank you Tony, and thank you Tom. And that's it for this week's Ideas in Action. I'm Jim Glassman, thanks for watching.

Keep in mind that you can watch Ideas in Action whenever and wherever you want. To watch highlights or complete programs just go to ideasinactiontv.com or download a podcast from the iTunes store. Ideas in Action because ideas have consequences.

ANNOUNCER:
For more information visit us at ideasinactiontv.com. Funding for Ideas in Action is provided by Investor's Business Daily. Every stock market cycle is led by America's never ending stream of innovative new companies and inventions. Investor's Business Daily helps investors find these new leaders as they emerge. More information is available at investors.com. This program is a production of Grace Creek Media and the George W. Bush Institute, which are solely responsible for its content.


1 Comment

J. Ramseyer wrote a report about Why Power Companies Build Nuclear Reactors on Fault Lines. I am surprised none of the experts mentioned a very salient point:

As long ago as 1934, Akitune Imamura of the Tokyo Imperial University Seismological Institute could write that "the eastern coast of the locality popularly known as the San-Riku (three-Riku) district ... is well known from historic times as the region frequently visited by tunami." What is more, he continued, "it is most notorious in this country, if not in the whole world."

Every century a massive (magnitude 8+) earthquake hits the Sanriku coast, and every century it brings a devastating (typically 20+ meters) tsunami. Any seismologist knew this. Any Sanriku fisherman knew this. And blithely, Tokyo Electric placed ten nuclear reactors on the coast.

--------------------
This would seem to be a fairly salient point in discussing nuclear power in the lee of the Japan disaster, no?

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Featured Guests

Thomas Cochran

Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council

Dr. Thomas B. Cochran is a consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council where he began working in 1973. Prior to retiring in 2011, he was a senior scientist and held the Wade Greene Chair for Nuclear Policy at NRDC, and was director of its Nuclear Program until 2007. He has served as a consultant to numerous government and non-government agencies on energy, nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear reactor and nuclear waste matters. He is a member of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and three of its subcommittees: the NEAC Nuclear Reactor Technology Subcommittee, the NEAC Infrastructure/Facilities Subcommittee and the NEAC International Subcommittee. Previously he served as a member of DOE's Environmental Management Advisory Board, Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Board and Energy Research Advisory Board, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Advisory Committee on the Cleanup of Three Mile Island and the TMI Public Health Advisory Board.

Dr. Cochran initiated NRDC's Nuclear Weapons Databook Project. He also initiated a series of joint nuclear weapons verification projects with the Soviet Academy of Sciences. These include the Nuclear Test Ban Verification Project, which demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing seismic monitoring to verify a low-threshold test ban, and the Black Sea Experiment, which examined the utility of passive radiation detectors for verifying limits on sea-launched cruise missiles.

Dr. Cochran is the author of The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor: An Environmental and Economic Critique (Washington, DC: Resources for the Future, 1974); and co-editor/author of the Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume I: U.S. Nuclear Forces and Capabilities (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Press, 1984); Volume II: U.S. Nuclear Warhead Production (1987); Volume III: U.S. Nuclear Warhead Facility Profiles (1987); Volume IV: Soviet Nuclear Weapons (1989); and Making the Russian Bomb: From Stalin to Yeltsin (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995). In addition, he has published numerous articles and working papers, including those in SIPRI Yearbook chapters, Arms Control Today, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He has co-authored (with Dr. Robert S. Norris) the article on "Nuclear Weapons" and in the 1990 printing of The New Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition), revised and updated in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011 Ultimate DVD (Copyright 2010, Encyclopedia Britannica). One of his most recent publications (with Christopher E. Paine) is "Nuclear Islands: International Leasing of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Sites to Provide Enduring Assurance of Peaceful Use," The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, November 2010, pp. 441-474.

Dr. Cochran received his Ph.D. in Physics from Vanderbilt University in 1967. He was assistant Professor of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, from 1967 to 1969, Modeling and Simulation Group Supervisor of the Litton Mellonics Division, Scientific Support Laboratory, Fort Ord, California, from 1969 to 1971, and from 1971 to 1973, he was a Senior Research Associate at Resources for the Future.

Dr. Cochran is the recipient of the American Physical Society's Szilard Award and the Federation of American Scientists' Public Service Award, both in 1987. As a consequence of his work, NRDC received the 1989 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Cochran is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAS and a member of the American Nuclear Society, the Health Physics Society and Sigma Xi.

Charles Ferguson

President, Federation of American Scientists

Charles D. Ferguson has been the president of the Federation of American Scientists since January 1, 2010. Ten years ago, Dr. Ferguson worked for FAS on nuclear proliferation and arms control issues as a senior research analyst and director of the nuclear policy project.

At the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), he most recently served as the project director of the Independent Task Force on U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy, chaired by William J. Perry and Brent Scowcroft. In addition to his work at CFR where he specialized in arms control, climate change, energy policy, and nuclear and radiological terrorism, Dr. Ferguson also is an adjunct professor in the security studies program at Georgetown University and an adjunct lecturer in the national security studies program at the Johns Hopkins University.

Previously, from 2002 to 2004, Dr. Ferguson had been with the Monterey Institute’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) as its scientist-in-residence. At CNS, he co-authored the book The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism and was also lead author of the award-winning report “Commercial Radioactive Sources: Surveying the Security Risks,” which was published in January 2003 and was one of the first post-9/11 reports to assess the radiological dispersal device, or “dirty bomb,” threat. This report won the 2003 Robert S. Landauer Lecture Award from the Health Physics Society.

He is the author of the forthcoming book: Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, May 2011).

Dr. Ferguson also has consulted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. From 2000 to 2002, he served as a physical scientist in the Office of the Senior Coordinator for Nuclear Safety at the U.S. Department of State, where he helped develop U.S. government policies on nuclear safety and security issues.

After graduating with distinction from the United States Naval Academy, he served as an officer on a fleet ballistic missile submarine and studied nuclear engineering at the Naval Nuclear Power School.

Dr. Ferguson has written numerous articles on energy policy, missile defense, nuclear arms control, nuclear energy, nuclear proliferation, and nuclear terrorism. In October 2008, he was named by Wired magazine as one of the “Fifteen People the Next President Should Listen To.”

Dr. Ferguson received his undergraduate degree in physics from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, also in physics, from Boston University in Massachusetts.

Tony Pietrangelo

Senior Vice President and Chief, Nuclear Energy Institute

Mr. Pietrangelo has 30 years experience in the nuclear energy industry, where his responsibilities have run the gamut of nuclear plant construction, licensing and operations.

Mr. Pietrangelo has been with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and its predecessor organizations since 1989, responsible for the management of licensing, risk-informed regulatory initiatives, performance-based regulation and other comprehensive technical, regulatory issues. He was promoted to vice president of regulatory affairs in 2006 and is currently responsible for executive oversight of new plant deployment, current plant operations and fuel cycle activities.

In his tenure at NEI, Mr. Pietrangelo has led industry efforts in areas including regulatory guidance on configuration risk management, shutdown/outage management, risk-informed, performance-based regulation, and various other regulatory and licensing issues. He was instrumental in leading industry efforts on applying risk insights to the Regulatory Oversight Process Mitigating Systems Performance Index.

Prior to joining NEI, Mr. Pietrangelo was with Westinghouse Electric Corp. as a project engineer for the construction, testing and start-up of nuclear power plants in Brazil, South Korea, the Philippines and the United States.

Mr. Pietrangelo is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering and holds a master of business administration degree from the Keller Graduate School of Management.

Charles Ferguson Charles D. Ferguson has been the president of the Federation of American Scientists since January 1, 2010. Ten years ago, Dr. Ferguson worked for FAS on nuclear proliferation and arms control issues as a senior research analyst and director of the nuclear policy project.

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